Posted On November 18, 2009 by Print This Post

The Making of a Bad Boy

Good morning and welcome to Anatomy of the Male Mind.  I’ve been thinking about the term “bad boy.”  How many of us have referred to a man as a “bad boy”?  I’m going to guess it’s a pretty high number.  It has become common (I think) to say “Oh, he’s a bad boy” or “I dated a bad boy.”  As my always amusing dad used to say, “Am I right or am I wrong?”

I know I dated a bad boy once.  The thing I’ve never really explored is why a boy grows into a bad boy.  I was suddenly curious about that and asked Wayne Levine to help us find someone who might have an answer.

Mike Schwartzmann joins us today to talk about life as a bad boy.  Obviously, everyone’s story will be different and this is one man sharing painful experiences with us.  Not all bad boys will have the same story, but I think Mike’s story gives us all something to think about the next time we meet a “bad boy.”

Why did you become a “bad boy”?

When I was five a friend of my father’s molested me. I went to my parents and they shoved it under the rug. The five year old mind doesn’t make mom & dad wrong so something must be terribly wrong with me. My brother is smart and my sister is cute & charming.  I had nowhere to go to get any love and attention.  As time went by, I got into trouble and got attention.  Not what I would suggest as a method but it worked.

Over the next 4 years or so I was beaten by my mom several times a week. She never hit anyone else. Back to the child mind, I was gathering info feeding serious shame. What would certainly be classified as abuse today was happening regularly, and I was more and more convinced I was damaged at some deep level. Alone with all this, I cursed myself as a dirty, nasty little boy who never deserved to have anything good happen to him.  I lived out that self induced curse well into adulthood.

What made you stop this cycle and go into recovery?

There are three ways to go so I’ll take on the medium length version.  From age 13 to 28, I had progressed from a runaway living on the streets of Los Angeles (stealing to survive) to a violent criminal heroin addict who spent better than half the time behind bars.  

Just short of a year before I got clean I was arrested for 2 robberies, 3 grand thefts and assault on a police officer.  Due to what I have come to consider a divine intervention I was placed on probation with a short jail sentence.

During the time in jail I was introduced to a new thought process that included the possibility of something different.  Armed with some desire for a change, I got out of jail and returned to what I knew. I now was being who I had been, but pretty much against my will.  I did not want to live this way and did not have any tools to stop. I had never been afraid of consequence before.

The drive that had been necessary to keep up with what I had done prior was not there.  I could no longer keep up the front of a criminal drug addict. I kept remembering the desire I had been introduced to during the long nights in my cell.  The desire for something new and different. I eventually violated probation and stood before the judge.  

My version of that day was God took over the courtroom and I was given the opportunity to seek help or return to prison for 10 years. I made the right choice! That was in April 1976. I have never looked back. 

When you talk about the desire to change, what kind of life were you envisioning for yourself that fueled you to make the change?

 I dont recall  having any vision of what life might look like for me if a change took place. I only knew what I didnt want. I didn’t want any of what I had been having.  It was really that simple and short sided. I don’t think I had the ability to imagine much in the way of a life.  I never had much of one.

***

Thank you to Mike for sharing.  Mike will be back with us on December 2 to talk about overcoming addiction.

To the RU crew, do you know any bad boys?  What is their story?

 Join us on Friday when Eliza Knight will show us how to make our stories come alive.

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13 Responses to “The Making of a Bad Boy”

  1. Mike, you lived most of your life with a particular persona. We’ve referred to that guy as the “motherfucker.” That’s the man I first met. Describe that man and talk about your experiences with women. I think the RU crowd would be fascinated to hear about the world through those eyes. BTW, I prefer the “grandpa” persona. It suits you.

    Posted by Wayne Levine | November 18, 2009, 1:54 am
    • howdy
      the muthafucker you met was between 15 & 20 years clean & on a path
      of recovery. so he was not anywhere near as aggresive. he was still
      willing to fight to the death about every little thing. he had little or no concern
      for others feelings or reactions. i coined a phrase “horray for me and fuck
      you”. that covers most of the ?. his usefullness in mens work was his no
      bullshit attitude and directness.

      my experiences with women is a book all by itself! but thanks.

      mike

      howdy and good morning tracey
      on the surface an easy ? ill answer it as 2 ?s
      yes i have a women in my life who knows “somewhat” the story of my
      life. right now she is too busy with her stuff to have my back.
      my sister is the best sister in the world!!!

      Posted by mike schwartzman | November 18, 2009, 11:58 am
  2. Mike,

    Thank you for joining us today. Can you tell us if you have someone (think female) special in your life right now? Someone who knows about your history and is still by your side?

    Thanks, Tracey

    Posted by TraceyDevlyn | November 18, 2009, 6:40 am
  3. Mike -

    First, I’d like to say it takes great big balls to lay your life out for people to dig around in, so thank you for sharing your story with our readers. Perhaps it’s too personal, but can you share more about what motivated that epiphany you had while in jail?

    You have my respect for turning your life around.
    Kelsey

    Posted by Kelsey Browning | November 18, 2009, 7:08 am
    • howdy & good morning
      life offers miracles constantly. the change was i responded this time.
      nothing comes to me other than that. i began to feel the price tag
      attached to what i was doing. i was tired of all the shit i was getting
      living the way i was living. i didnt do anything to bring it on.

      Posted by mike schwartzman | November 18, 2009, 12:04 pm
  4. Morning Mike…

    Are your parents still alive and do you have any type of relationship with them at all? or the rest of your family?

    thanks for the posting with us today…..

    carrie

    Posted by carrie | November 18, 2009, 9:09 am
    • howdy & good morning carrie
      my parents have passed over. a long story describes my attempts
      to have good relations with them both, they were both damaged and
      not able to have good relations with others in my opinion. i settled for
      they did the best they could. i then went about the business of
      forgiving and being the best son i could. when i recognised that my
      stuff was so glaring that most other people could not get passed that
      to get to there stuff i let it go.

      my sister nora is the best sister in the world! she has her stuff and i
      have mine and yet we can be there for each other.

      my brother fits into the mold with my folks and i no longer have
      anything to do with making contact with him. i have forgiven him
      and me.

      Posted by mike schwartzman | November 18, 2009, 12:15 pm
  5. Hi, Mike. Thank you for being here. I admire your willingness to let us dig around in your personal life, but more importantly to help others move onto a better path.

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | November 18, 2009, 1:11 pm
  6. Thanks for sharing part of your story, Mike. I am so glad you found a way to move beyond the mess.

    Was there a person you met whose example showed you a better way to be? Or was this discovery the result of self-reflection? Did you write down your thoughts and impressions?

    A woman gave a speech to our writer’s group a couple of years ago, and she said that writing her life’s story in a journal helped her get her head straight during her seven years in prison.

    Reflection, writing, observing others–I suppose there are many different ways for people to come to the realization that they need to turn their life around–and that they have the power to make such a change.

    But it would be interesting to know how you did it. And I wonder if you think that other people could do the same.

    Posted by Saralee | November 18, 2009, 1:53 pm
  7. Thanks, Mike, for sharing your story with us. The mother in me wants to hold that 5 year old boy in my arms and tell him that it’s not his fault. That he’s perfect and wonderful and that it’s my fault for not protecting him. The fiction writer in me wants to grab a baseball bat and pay that guy a visit.

    Are you saying that the decision to change your destructive ways had to come from inside? Other than the threat of going back to prison, was there anything external that caused you to look inward, making you decide you had enough?

    Thinking purely as a romance writer, what would a bad boy need in a woman to help him through this process of changing his bad boy ways?

    Thanks again for being brave enough to share your story with us.

    Posted by Laurie London | November 18, 2009, 10:33 pm
  8. howdy
    i responded via email
    please forward it as it didnt post here
    thanx
    mike

    Posted by mike schwartzman | November 19, 2009, 1:55 pm

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